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Turkish model for new democracies?

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Turkish model for new democracies?


The Turkish President Abdullah Gul, on a visit to Egypt, has been in talks with Field Marshal Tantawi, who is currently leading Egypt’s transitional administration. “I am here, to share our experiences in all sincerity at this critical time,” said Mr Gul. He is also scheduled to meet leaders of the Egyptian opposition and the protesters, as well as representatives of the Arab League.

Since the start of the wave of unrest which is sweeping across the Arab world, Turkey’s transition from dictatorship to democracy is often referred to as an example for other nations and the country is often cited as being an example of how democracy and Islam can coexist.

The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also sees his role as sharing the Turkish experience with emerging democracies. Since early February, he was talking to Hosnii Mubarak, the ex-president of Egypt from his own parliament: “Listen to the people’s shouts and their very humanist demands. Without hesitation, you have to meet this demand for change which is coming from the people. Work towards peace, security and stability in Egypt.”

The Turkish model rests on the evolution of the AKP from being an old-guard Islamic, conservative, anti-democratic political party into a moderate movement which has safeguarded the secular state as set up in 1924 by Mustafa Kemal. This is seen as the strength of the Turkish system. The country moved into democracy during the 1950s and is therefore seen as having a wealth of experience to share with Egypt and other countries.

Originally the members of the AKP believed in a similar set of values as the Islamic Brotherhood but since their entrance into mainstream political life in the 90s, their approach shifted towards the centre, leading to their historic election win in 2002.

Now, the economy is growing and economic liberalisation is more of a priority than religious matters. But the current Turkish administration inherited a lot of experience and a system of organising the armed forces which is unique in the region. Without these elements it could be difficult to follow their political model. It seems however, that Turkey’s role for the time being is one of trying to lead by example.

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